Page 25 of Dracula

Font Size:  

"Do not trouble about it now. Forget it for the present. You shall knowand understand it all in good time; but it will be later. And now whatis that you came to me to say?" This brought me back to fact, and I wasall myself again.

"I came to speak about the certificate of death. If we do not actproperly and wisely, there may be an inquest, and that paper would haveto be produced. I am in hopes that we need have no inquest, for if wehad it would surely kill poor Lucy, if nothing else did. I know, and youknow, and the other doctor who attended her knows, that Mrs. Westenrahad disease of the heart, and we can certify that she died of it. Letus fill up the certificate at once, and I shall take it myself to theregistrar and go on to the undertaker."

"Good, oh my friend John! Well thought of! Truly Miss Lucy, if she besad in the foes that beset her, is at least happy in the friends thatlove her. One, two, three, all open their veins for her, besides one oldman. Ah yes, I know, friend John; I am not blind! I love you all themore for it! Now go."

In the hall I met Quincey Morris, with a telegram for Arthur telling himthat Mrs. Westenra was dead; that Lucy also had been ill, but was nowgoing on better; and that Van Helsing and I were with her. I told himwhere I was going, and he hurried me out, but as I was going said:--

"When you come back, Jack, may I have two words with you all toourselves?" I nodded in reply and went out. I found no difficulty aboutthe registration, and arranged with the local undertaker to come up inthe evening to measure for the coffin and to make arrangements.

When I got back Quincey was waiting for me. I told him I would see himas soon as I knew about Lucy, and went up to her room. She was stillsleeping, and the Professor seemingly had not moved from his seat ather side. From his putting his finger to his lips, I gathered that heexpected her to wake before long and was afraid of forestalling nature.So I went down to Quincey and took him into the breakfast-room, wherethe blinds were not drawn down, and which was a little more cheerful,or rather less cheerless, than the other rooms. When we were alone, hesaid to me:--

"Jack Seward, I don't want to shove myself in anywhere where I've noright to be; but this is no ordinary case. You know I loved that girland wanted to marry her; but, although that's all past and gone, Ican't help feeling anxious about her all the same. What is it that'swrong with her? The Dutchman--and a fine old fellow he is; I can seethat--said, that time you two came into the room, that you must have_another_ transfusion of blood, and that both you and he were exhausted.Now I know well that you medical men speak _in camera_, and that a manmust not expect to know what they consult about in private. But this isno common matter, and, whatever it is, I have done my part. Is not thatso?"

"That's so," I said, and he went on:--

"I take it that both you and Van Helsing had done already what I didto-day. Is not that so?"

"That's so."

"And I guess Art was in it too. When I saw him four days ago down athis own place he looked queer. I have not seen anything pulled down soquick since I was on the Pampas and had a mare that I was fond of goto grass all in a night. One of those big bats that they call vampireshad got at her in the night, and, what with his gorge and the vein leftopen, there wasn't enough blood in her to let her stand up, and I had toput a bullet through her as she lay. Jack, if you may tell me withoutbetraying confidence, Arthur was the first; is not that so?" As hespoke the poor fellow looked terribly anxious. He was in a torture ofsuspense regarding the woman he loved, and his utter ignorance of theterrible mystery which seemed to surround her intensified his pain. Hisvery heart was bleeding, and it took all the manhood of him--and therewas a royal lot of it, too--to keep him from breaking down. I pausedbefore answering, for I felt that I must not betray anything which theProfessor wished kept secret, but already he knew so much, and guessedso much, that there could be no reason for not answering, so I answeredin the same phrase: "That's so."

"And how long has this been going on?"

"About ten days."

"Ten days! Then I guess, Jack Seward, that that poor pretty creaturethat we all love has had put into her veins within that time the bloodof four strong men. Man alive, her whole body wouldn't hold it." Then,coming close to me, he spoke in a fierce half-whisper: "What took itout?"

I shook my head. "That," I said, "is the crux. Van Helsing is simplyfrantic about it, and I am at my wits' end. I can't even hazard a guess.There has been a series of little circumstances which have thrown outall our calculations as to Lucy being properly watched. But these shallnot occur again. Here we stay until all be well--or ill." Quincey heldout his hand. "Count me in," he said. "You and the Dutchman will tell mewhat to do, and I'll do it."

When she woke late in the afternoon, Lucy's first movement was to feelin her breast, and, to my surprise, produced the paper which Van Helsinghad given me to read. The careful Professor had replaced it where ithad come from, lest on waking she should be alarmed. Her eye then liton Van Helsing and on me too, and gladdened. Then she looked round theroom, and seeing where she was, shuddered; she gave a loud cry, and puther poor thin hands before her pale face. We both understood what thatmeant--that she had realised to the full her mother's death; so we triedwhat we could to comfort her. Doubtless sympathy eased her somewhat, butshe was very low in thought and spirit, and wept silently and weakly fora long time. We told her that either or both of us would now remain withher all the time, and that seemed to comfort her. Towards dusk she fellinto a doze. Here a very odd thing occurred. Whilst still asleep shetook the paper from her breast and tore it in two. Van Helsing steppedover and took the pieces from her. All the same, however, she went onwith the action of tearing, as though the material were still in herhands; finally she lifted her hands and opened them as though scatteringthe fragments. Van Helsing seemed surprised, and his brows gathered asif in thought, but he said nothing.

_19 September._--All last night she slept fitfully, being always afraidto sleep, and something weaker when she woke from it. The Professorand I took it in turns to watch, and we never left her for a momentunattended. Quincey Morris said nothing about his intention, but I knewthat all night long he patrolled round and round the house.

When the day

came, its searching light showed the ravages in poorLucy's strength. She was hardly able to turn her head, and the littlenourishment which she could take seemed to do her no good. At times sheslept, and both Van Helsing and I noticed the difference in her, betweensleeping and waking. Whilst asleep she looked stronger, although morehaggard, and her breathing was softer; her open mouth showed the palegums drawn back from the teeth, which thus looked positively longer andsharper than usual; when she woke the softness of her eyes evidentlychanged the expression, for she looked her own self, although a dyingone. In the afternoon she asked for Arthur, and we telegraphed for him.Quincey went off to meet him at the station.

When he arrived it was nearly six o'clock, and the sun was setting fulland warm, and the red light streamed in through the window and gavemore colour to the pale cheeks. When he saw her, Arthur was simplychoked with emotion, and none of us could speak. In the hours that hadpassed, the fits of sleep, or the comatose condition that passed forit, had grown more frequent, so that the pauses when conversation waspossible were shortened. Arthur's presence, however, seemed to act as astimulant; she rallied a little, and spoke to him more brightly than shehad done since we arrived. He too pulled himself together, and spoke ascheerily as he could, so that the best was made of everything.

It is now nearly one o'clock, and he and Van Helsing are sitting withher. I am to relieve them in a quarter of an hour, and I am enteringthis on Lucy's phonograph. Until six o'clock they are to try to rest. Ifear that to-morrow will end our watching, for the shock has been toogreat; the poor child cannot rally. God help us all.

_Letter, Mina Harker to Lucy Westenra._

(Unopened by her.)

_"17 September._

"My dearest Lucy,--

"It seems _an age_ since I heard from you, or indeed since I wrote. Youwill pardon me, I know, for all my faults when you have read all mybudget of news. Well, I got my husband back all right; when we arrivedat Exeter there was a carriage waiting for us, and in it, though he hadan attack of gout, Mr. Hawkins. He took us to his own house, where therewere rooms for us all nice and comfortable, and we dined together. Afterdinner Mr. Hawkins said:--

"'My dears, I want to drink your health and prosperity; and may everyblessing attend you both. I know you both from children, and have, withlove and pride, seen you grow up. Now I want you to make your home herewith me. I have left to me neither chick nor child; all are gone, and inmy will I have left you everything.' I cried, Lucy dear, as Jonathan andthe old man clasped hands. Our evening was a very, very happy one.

"So here we are, installed in this beautiful old house, and from bothmy bedroom and drawing-room I can see the great elms of the cathedralclose, with their great black stems standing out against the old yellowstone of the cathedral; and I can hear the rooks overhead cawing andcawing and chattering and gossiping all day, after the manner ofrooks--and humans. I am busy, I need not tell you, arranging thingsand housekeeping. Jonathan and Mr. Hawkins are busy all day; for, nowthat Jonathan is a partner, Mr. Hawkins wants to tell him all about theclients.

"How is your dear mother getting on? I wish I could run up to town fora day or two to see you, dear, but I dare not go yet, with so much onmy shoulders; and Jonathan wants looking after still. He is beginningto put some flesh on his bones again, but he was terribly weakened bythe long illness; even now he sometimes starts out of his sleep in asudden way and awakes all trembling until I can coax him back to hisusual placidity. However, thank God, these occasions grow less frequentas the days go on, and they will in time pass away altogether, I trust.And now I have told you my news, let me ask yours. When are you to bemarried, and where, and who is to perform the ceremony, and what areyou to wear, and is it to be a public or a private wedding? Tell me allabout it, dear; tell me all about everything, for there is nothing whichinterests you which will not be dear to me. Jonathan asks me to sendhis 'respectful duty,' but I do not think that is good enough from thejunior partner of the important firm of Hawkins & Harker; and so, as youlove me, and he loves me, and I love you with all the moods and tensesof the verb, I send you simply his 'love' instead. Goodbye, my dearestLucy, and all blessings on you.

"Yours, "/Mina Harker./"

Articles you may like